A Future Not Our Own

Here is another Picture Reflection from my friend Joyce Smith.

The ponder quotation is attributed to Oscar Romero, the saint and martyr who died for his faith in El Salvador on 24th March, 1980 It is a thought contained in a very special prayer. The next words of the prayer are:

This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

The Prayer, A Future Not our own,  is worth praying through slowly because it has much to say to our souls particularly in these days when we are perhaps impatient to  get on with things and frustrated, perhaps even despondent and in despair with the Covid restrictions.
May the prayer reflection  have something meaningful  for us.


It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete,
– which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

That is what we are about.
We plant a seed that will one day grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

The prayer is known today as The Romero Prayer though, in truth, there is no evidence that he every prayed it! It was Cardinal Basil Hume who unwittingly first attributed it to St Oscar Romero. Delivering a paper at Westminster Cathedral on Catholic Education in 1997 he misattributed it. When the paper was subsequently published, the attribution remained and was taken up by CAFOD and Caritas Internationalis  in Rome. From then it went round the Global church and in the process became known as The Romero Prayer.
The prayer was actually composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, who drafted it for a homily for the celebration of a departed priest. The homily was delivered by Cardinal John Deaden.
It has become established as the Romero Prayer mainly because, though St Oscar may not have written or prayed it, it could easily have been. It has the essence of the Saint’s own teaching, theology and spirituality.  It is no surprise therefore that it has been ‘owned’ by devotees of the Saint who find so much in his teaching and example to guide, form and enrich their own thinking and praying.

To pray this prayer and own it would go a long way to helping us to look at what it is happening to us and to our disfigured world, and placing everything and our future into God’s hands.
Under God we are indeed prophets of a future not our own. We are prophets, heralds and signs of a new future which is God’s. In the many issues in which humanity has tried to rule and dictate how we treat the Planet, we  are being called to work afresh with God to reclaim everything for a new vision of what it means to be stewards and cherishers of the amazing ‘gift of our stupendous earth.

Maybe this virus will come to be the turning point of a genuine global repentance as we return our planet back to God for His safekeeping.

[Mr G and Canon Joyce]

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